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Portland Water District joins lawsuit against forever chemical manufacturers

  • Portland Water District joins lawsuit against forever chemical manufacturers

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Portland Water District (PWD), the biggest water district in Maine, has announced it is suing manufacturers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), so-called “forever chemicals”, in order to recover costs associated with PFAS mitigation in wastewater treatment, including treatment byproducts, effluent, and biosolids.

By taking legal action against manufacturers of PFAS, PWD is holding accountable those responsible for pollution,” stated PWD’s General Manager Seth Garrison. 

Even though there is no measurable PFAS in Greater Portland’s drinking water, it has been found in wastewater. PWD’s four treatment facilities show 15-32 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in the effluent.

The Portland Water District lawsuit arises as the cost of disposing of PFAS-contaminated sewage sludge has surged from $1.6 million to $3.2 million over the past three years, reports AP. Additionally, Portland has committed to developing a proposal for a regional biosolids treatment facility, with cost estimates between $150 million and $250 million.

Filed last month in the U.S. District Court in South Carolina, the lawsuit targets 18 companies, including DuPont, 3M, and others involved in the design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, and sale of six toxic forever chemicals.

“Defendants knew or reasonably should have known that their PFAS compounds would contaminate wastewater treatment systems and endanger public health and welfare,” the lawsuit states.

In collaboration with a team of law firms, SL Environmental Law Group is handling the Portland Water District’s case along with several other wastewater systems across the country.

PWD is also a claimant in a federal multi-district case related to water utilities and PFAS contamination. Because PWD has no measurable PFAS in the drinking water, it is designated as a Class 2 claimant and reimbursement will be limited to covering the costs of the extra testing that has been required.

PWD is committed to protecting public health and supports keeping PFAS out of the environment. It supports efforts to reduce PFAS at its sources, including keeping them out of consumer products. PWD is proactively engaged at the local, state, and national levels, exploring solutions to combat the widespread PFAS problem.

In a statement, 3M said it will address PFAS litigation by defending itself in court or through negotiated resolutions. “As the science and technology of PFAS, societal and regulatory expectations, and our expectations of ourselves, have evolved,” the company said Wednesday.

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